Watching athletes accomplish Olympic dreams may motivate your children to set their own sports goals. At times, it’s easy to get caught up in the atmosphere of competing, but it is important to remember a sport offers much more than just winning.
While participating in sports, children learn sportsmanship etiquette, such as social skills, teamwork, how to play fair and how to use strategy. A childhood sport can also help form lasting friendships and shape values and behaviors for a lifetime.
Your child's behaviors and attitudes can be influenced by his or her support system, including parents, coaches and other teammates. Although you may not be able to attend every event, always maintain positive guidance practices. Below are some positive sportsmanship guidelines for your child and family.
• Support system guidelines. Attend events, volunteer and learn about the sport. Maintain respectful behavior at all times – prior, during and after the event – and always provide emotional support and positive feedback during both losses and wins.
• Good versus bad sportsmanship. Discuss the difference on how to handle situations fairly. In the heat of the moment during competitions, it may be difficult to maintain composure during a loss. Always stress that disrespectful behavior, both physical and verbal, is not acceptable.
• Play with respect and be fair. Every player should have the chance to play. Encourage your child to cheer on teammates and always avoid negative comments or reactions when the play doesn’t go as planned. Never exclude other players, and, win or lose, respect the other team, shake hands and acknowledge a job well done.
• Respect coaches and officials. Follow directions of the coaches and officials who make decisions during the event. If you are concerned about the behavior or attitude of your child's coach or teammates, talk privately with the coach about your concerns. If the coach is not responsive, consider withdrawing your child from the coach’s care. Find a different organization, coach or team that best fits what you want your child’s care and behavior to reflect.
As with most aspects of parenting, actively teaching and being involved with your child in solving problems is important. Create and shape positive sportsmanship values, share in wins and defeats and be proud of your child’s sportsmanship accomplishments.